What are cachexia and sarcopenia, and how do they differ?

Cachexia and sarcopenia are similar conditions. Sarcopenia is actually considered to be part of the same pathology as cachexia. Both conditions elicit similar symptoms including; muscle loss, bone loss, fatigue, weakness, and a loss of appetite.

CachexiaCachexia is the more serious of the two conditions. It usually is associated with HIV/AIDS, congestive heart failure, Crohn’s disease, and many different types of cancers. What makes cachexia a serious problem is the fact that you can not reverse the syndrome with just nutritional support. The treatment of cachexia comes mostly from the treatment of the underlying issue. There is no set cure for the treatment of cachexia specifically. Today’s healthcare professionals use methods ranging from steroids to non-drug therapies to medical marijuana. Accurate body composition measurement with the seca mBCA assists with detecting cachectic states. Examination results allow you to monitor and adapt nutritional state during therapy in order to reduce mortality.

Aging process - very old senior woman hands wrinkled skinSarcopenia is the loss of bone and muscle due to aging. The body begins to become more frail as we age so this condition is fairly common. The biggest factor contributing to the onset of sarcopenia is the absence of healthy diet and regular exercise. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will drastically reduce the onset of the aging process and subsequently sarcopenia. Exercise allows your muscles and bone to synthesize important proteins in your body. This in turn strengthens your muscles and bones, counteracting the effects of sarcopenia. Segmental analysis of muscles with seca mBCA, helps to define specific physiotherapy treatment and monitors the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy. Growth hormones and steroids have been investigated to determine their effectiveness in reversing this condition, yet no pharmaceuticals are approved for the treatment of sarcopenia.

One of the key differences between cachexia and sarcopenia is what causes them. Cachexia comes from underlying medical conditions, whereas sarcopenia comes with age. Another difference is how the conditions are diagnosed. Since cachexia is associated with other diseases, that is where the diagnosis comes from. Sarcopenia is diagnosed after administering a walking test and analyzing the patient’s body composition. If the person has a low muscle mass and a low gait speed (depending on their sex and ethnic background, respectively), then they are considered to have sarcopenia. The treatments of the two conditions can vary or overlap depending on the underlying causes. The main treatment difference is that exercise can be effective against sarcopenia where it is not against cachexia. Symptoms have a little variance between the two depending on the source of the issue. However one prevalent difference comes from the absence of malaise from sarcopenia. Malaise is a general feeling of uneasiness or discomfort/ pain felt throughout the body.

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